Texas prep cornerback Junior Okpara is a rare breed when it comes to the nation's top high school football players.
Not only is Okpara (6-1, 180, 4.48) - whose given name is Ugo - a tall cornerback with great speed, but also someone who is not looking for a quick fix when it comes to playing time in college.
"I would really like to come in my first year and redshirt while getting bigger and stronger and learn the college game from the coaches and the older players," Okpara said Thursday night via cell phone. "That way I can give my school four great years once it is time for me to play."
Arkansas – the school Okapara is currently taking an unofficial visit to – hopes to be that team after his career at Dulles High in Sugarland, Texas is over.
The Razorbacks have made his final four along with Nebraska, Virginia and Boston College with Chris Vaughn handling Okpara's recruiting for Arkansas.
"The first thing that come to mind when I think of Arkansas is what a great guy Coach Vaughn is and what a great recruiting coordinator he is," Okpara said. "He has done a great job on selling me on Arkansas and that's why I am so interested in them and wanted to come visit."
Okpara, one of the top 25 cornerbacks in the country according to Scout.com, also is aware of the tradition of Arkansas secondary players going to the NFL.
He had 61 tackles last season, three pass break ups, a forced fumble and fumble recovery during a year when foes rarely tested him.
"I know they have sent some cornerbacks and safety to the NFL in the last few drafts," Okpara said. "So that means they are getting great coaching on all aspects of their game."
That height could be both a plus and minus for Okpara, but he believes hard work has made it all positive.
"Being as tall as I am could be a problem backpedaling and getting in and out my breaks, but I have worked hard to make sure that is a strength and not a weakness," Okpara said. "It also goes without saying that in college where the wide receivers are 6-3 and 6-4 now, it helps me with that. I can go up with them and know that if I don't come down with it that they are not going to either."
Okpara will visit Nebraska next week, but doesn't know if he will be able to get in visits to Virginia and Boston College before two-a-days start.
"I think I am going to be ready after visiting Arkansas and Nebraska," Okpara said. "I am going to try and fit Virginia but not sure I am going to be able to. I don't think I am going to make it to Boston College because I don't want to miss any practice."
Okpara, who had a 3.4 grade point average and has already scored over 1,000 on his SAT to be qualified, is planning on getting his decision made before his season starts.
"That is still my goal," Okpara said. "I think it is the best thing to do."
Arkansas hosting Okpara
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